With gang activity on the increase in Coney Island, the lawmaker representing the area is looking to put more teeth in prosecuting crime related to it.
Under a bill recently introduced in the City Council by Domenic Recchia, any gang member caught soliciting someone else to commit a crime will be subject to Class A misdemeanor charges carrying up to a year in jail.
A Recchia staff person said it is the stiffest penalty allowed through city legislation. Making it a felony would take state legislation.
The bill comes just a few weeks after a horrific shooting in the Bronx, in which gang members allegedly recruited a 16-year-old to shoot somebody, resulting in a 15-year-old bystander being shot in the head.
“According to news reports, the young men involved in the shooting gave the gun to the youngest member in their group – the only one without a criminal record,” said Recchia, who is an attorney.
“The young man who fired the bullet should be punished, but the gang members who gave him the gun and encouraged him to pull the trigger are also responsible,” he added.
Recchia’s proposed legislation also comes after police recently said there are about 250 gang members within the confines of the 60th Precinct including Coney Island and Brighton Beach.
Police said that on the western end of Coney Island, which has seen a rash of murders this year, the gang is predominantly the Bloods.
Several Mexican gangs operate in Brighton Beach, along Stillwell Avenue, West 15th Street, West 17th Street and as far west as West 20th Street, police said.
Recchia said peer pressure can be a powerful and dangerous instigator, and he is hoping the proposed law may deter gang recruitment.
“Countless parents have told me their children are being pressured by gang members, and they don’t know what to do.Gang violence remains a problem in my Coney Island district,” said Recchia.
Police reaction in Patrol Borough Brooklyn South appeared to be favorable toward the strengthening on anti-gang laws.
“Gang initiations are criminal and some involve very serious crimes like doing a shooting or armed robbery and they (gang members) should be held accountable as well as someone committing the crime,” said one high-placed police source.
“And if you join a gang it’s really hard to get out of it so their is an intimidation factor as well,” the source added.
Dep. Inspector Corey Pegues, the commanding officer of the 67th Precinct covering East Flatbush, said he is for any tools that can strengthen laws against violent crime.
“In my command we have serious gang issues. It’s just a matter of time that what happened in the Bronx might come to the 6-7,” said Pegues, adding that almost all criminality stems from copycat crime.